COLN Choir will be joined by Downton Abbey star Douglas Reith for their '11th hour' charity concert in Cirencester Parish Church on Friday, November 2.

The concert will tell the story of the Great War, with particular focus on the role of men and women from this part of Gloucestershire and the actions of the Gloucestershire Regiment in various battles.

Douglas, who plays Lord Merton in the popular TV drama series, will take the role of the Narrator who will lead the audience through the poetry, prose and music which relates the dramatic events of the War and the local stories behind them.

Douglas will join popular local singers Kate Hicks Beach and Tani Phillips, concert pianist Jonathan Phillips, violinist Tom Pitt and trumpeter Peter Medland, as well as actor/director Jackie Smith-Wood and actress Mary Conlon, each of whom will contribute their own special magic to the evening.

Concert organisers have looked at the stories of men and women from this area who served in Gallipoli and Egypt.

These include Charles Tilling and Thomas Bedwell of Bibury, Michael Hicks Beach of Coln St Aldwyns, George Gardner of Fairford, John Adams from Eastleach and William Trinder of Quenington who all fought in the Middle East.

Many of these names are still familiar as those of local families.

Michael Hicks Beach (then Viscount Quenington), was an adjutant in the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars who fought in the disastrous Gallipoli campaign in 1915.

During the battle at Qatia he suffered a shrapnel wound in the leg, which led to his death.

His grandson, David Hicks Beach said: “My family has always been very proud of the contribution made by my grand-father and grand-mother in the Great War. This will be a wonderful concert of music, song, poetry and stories highlighting local men. A very special moment to reflect on and appreciate what people had to endure.”

Proceeds from the concert will go to local health charity Cobalt and to the Royal British Legion as part of their annual Poppy appeal.

The concert starts at 7.30pm on Friday, November 2 in Cirencester Parish Church, Market Place, GL7 2NX.

Tickets are priced at £25 and £15, and are available through the Coln St Aldwyns Choir website at or at Coln Stores, Main St, Coln St Aldwyns, GL7 5AN 01285 750294.